Lake Country tax hike includes potential purchase of CN Rail corridor

Lake Country residents will see taxes rise 3.13 per cent in 2015 after budget deliberations by Lake Country council

Lake Country is looking at a 3.13 per cent tax increase in the 2015 operating budget which includes a 1.76 per cent increase should the Alternative Approval Process to purchase the CN Rail corridor allow the district to borrow $2.6 million for the rail line.

Lake Country council held three budget meetings this year and passed the tax hike, which equates to approximately $50.66 on an average single-family home assessed at $492,000.

“We keep trying to do those things that need doing like fixing up roads when we can so we have some major projects in areas where we can make walking safer and make connections through the community better,” said Lake Country mayor James Baker.

The District’s total operating budget for 2015 is $19.3 million. The total capital spending forecast is $9.5million ($4.8 million in new capital projects and $4.7 in carry forward projects). The capital projects are the big ticket items or assets that are typically long-term in nature such as land, buildings, roads, pipes and large equipment.

The top capital projects approved are:

•  Universal Metering Phase 2 ($1,500,000)

• Arena Ice Sheet Replacement ($1,500,000)

•  Bond and Pow Road Improvement ($350,000)

•  Parks and Recreation Master Plan ($150,000)

•  Fire Department Bush Truck Replacement ($125,000)

Among the most important projects, according to Baker, is the parks and recreation master plan. the district has never had a plan in place for its parks, and Baker says getting it done will make it easier to apply for grants and allow for proper planning for recreation areas.

“We need to consolidate some of the strategic aspects of what we are going to do with our parks,” said Baker. “We’ve been needing one for some time. We were throwing money here there and everywhere without a plan.”

Also approved after the three budget meetings were the following:

•No increase to the sewer user rates and a $50 increase to the sewer parcel tax;

• No increase or reduction to garbage and recycling  fees;

• No additional increase to the Lake Country water rates above what was previously approved;

• Some operational increases – especially in the areas of snow clearing, parks maintenance and environmental protection.